PM arrives in Paris for talks on Palestinian statehood

While in London, UK's Cameron tells Netanyahu Palestinians must reject terror, recognize Israel, engage in peace process before declaring a state; France, UK considering recognizing Palestinian state.

By TOVAH LAZAROFF JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDANT, JP
May 5, 2011 18:24
2 minute read.
Netanyahu and Cameron in London, Wednesday.

netanyahu and cameron_311. (photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

 
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu landed in Paris Thursday afternoon having received assurances from the United Kingdom's Prime Minister David Cameron that his country would not recognize a Palestinian government that was still committed to violence.

A statement from Downing Street released after Netanyahu's meeting with Cameron on Wednesday night said that the two leaders had discussed the ceremony in Cairo earlier that day in which Fatah and Hamas had signed a unity deal.

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"Prime Minister Cameron said that any new Palestinian government must reject violence, recognize Israel's right to exist and engage in the peace process, and that Britain would judge it by its actions."

Netanyahu had left the meeting, which lasted for more than two hours, certain that he had secured this pledge from Cameron.

Downing Street further stated that the two leaders had a working dinner during which time Cameron assured Netanyahu that his country is a staunch ally of Israel.

Cameron said, "we faced a moment of opportunity in the Middle East and this "strengthened the case for meaningful engagement int he Israeli/Palestinian peace process. Progress would help cement Israel's long term security and reinforce prospects for democracy and moderation in the region," he said.

But Netanyahu is expected to have a much more difficult meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.



Sarkozy said his state would be willing to recognize a Palestinian state if there was no progress in peace talks, L'Express reported on Wednesday.

"If the peace process resumed in the summer, France will say that the main parties much talk without pushing forward the schedule," Sarkozy told the French weekly. "If, conversely, the peace process remains stalled in September, France will take responsibility on the central question of recognizing a Palestinian state."

He added that Europe, the largest donor to the Palestinians, "will not remain a political dwarf in this matter." Peace "will not happen if the US does not get more involved, but the Americans will not succeed alone," Sarkozy explained.

Sarkozy also welcomed the recent reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, saying that "nothing is possible" in the peace process without it.

The Guardian had quoted a diplomatic source saying that Cameron told Netanyahu the same thing.

"Britain's clear and absolute preference is for a negotiation to take place between Israel and the Palestinians which leads to a two state solution which everyone endorses.  But at this point Britain is not ruling anything out. The more Israel engages seriously in a meaningful peace process the less likely it is that this question of unilateral declaration would arise," the source said.

JPost.com Staff contributed to this report.

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